Matt Potter is an Australian-born writer who keeps a part of his psyche in Berlin. Matt has been published in various places online, and he is, rather amazingly, also the founding editor of Pure Slush. His daytime career has seen him work in disability advocacy, communications, community aged care and teaching English as a second language. He currently coordinates an LGBT social support and mentoring program.
Loren Kleinman (LK): Pure Slush was established in December 2010, and "its aim is to promote fun (and less wank) in flash fiction." Can you talk about what you mean when you say "less wank"?
Matt Potter (MP): To wank means to masturbate, but it can also mean verbal masturbation. I wanted something fun and zesty, when I established Pure Slush ... and something people would remember. So, if you know what wank means, it's memorable ... and if you don't, it's still worth remembering and maybe you'll try to find out.
Less pretension and more fun, in all its forms ... that's what I wanted.
LK: Do you ever here from anyone, "You publish what!"?
MP: No -- some people (writers mostly) are curious. Most people outside of those circles are polite ... as their eyes dim and their brains switch off! Writing and publishing is a different world, and most are disinterested, even if avid readers. To them, publishing is usually Penguin and Hachette and Mills and Boon.
Me: Flash fiction sounds like it is. Short short short stories.
The Other Person: How short?
Me: Short short short. Shorter than you might think.
Pure Slush publishes flash online and in print.
LK: Why publish flash fiction? What do you think readers get out of flash fiction versus short fiction? Can you tell readers the difference between the two?
MP: Publishing flash fiction is fun and much if it is enjoyable to read.
You can read flash fiction on the bus. You can read it while you're waiting at the dentist's. You can read it in that short time between sex and dozing off. It's a small involvement for a much larger pay-off.
Flash fiction, in a flash, is Big ideas in a short time frame. Or Major moments presented intimately. With short fiction, there's more padding. Often, it's an essence, or a shorthand in literate form. Those are some theories, anyway.
Flash fiction can also lend itself to longer forms, by using the short form in a connected way. Novels in the form of many short stories. The idea of writing a novel can be daunting ... but think of it (and write it) in bite-sized pieces. Plus, those bite-sized pieces might be easier to digest. Link them and then you have a novel, or at least a novella.
Pure Slush's 2014 A Year in Stories project is a case in point. It's a 12 volume anthology, each volume devoted to a month of the year 2014. Each of the 31 writers involved is contributing a story a month, set on the same day every month -- so always the 1st, the 5th, the 27th -- and written in the present tense. So when you read each story, a new story every day, the stories read like they are happening NOW. (As I write this, 336 stories have been submitted and accepted, with only 29 to go.)
What we're publishing is a series of story cycles that arc across the whole year, involving the same character or set of characters. Twelve days (eleven days for the 29th and 30th, seven for the 31st) in the life of that person or people, so readers can dip into these people's lives once a month. Like a serial.
All these 365 (eventual) stories are flash. 1500 words or less (or thereabouts). And it's like experiencing these lives in real time.
LK: Does Pure Slush publish highbrow or trashy? Or both? What's your vision as editor?
MP: Hmm ... we publish both, because there is a place for both ... that is, if you mean fun / funny trashy.
What I do know is, Pure Slush publishes witty, heartfelt stories that give some insight in someone's life.
LK: Why should writers submit their work to Pure Slush?
MP: Because they want a fun and vibrant venue run by a caring and responsive editor! Because Pure Slush is an eclectic venue with a proven track record set over the last 4 years. Because it looks good on their writer's CV!
LK: How did you meet Nicolette Wong from A Minor Press? Can you talk about your past collaborations?
MP: I first came to know Nicolette through 52 / 250 A Year of Flash as we were both participants. And later, Pure Slush published one of Nicolette's stories online. Nicolette wrote she didn't really write things she thought would suit Pure Slush, but we published The Right Time in May 2011. And Nicolette now steers A-Minor Press, online and in print.
LK: If you could date any writer from the past, who would it be and why?
MP: Ha! Well, I wouldn't -- too boring, as listening to many writers bang on about their work is worse than dull -- but if I had to, if you sat me down and made me do it, it would be the Epstein brothers.